A boy aged six was the extraordinary recipient of a GCSE yesterday – comfortably the youngest child to be awarded the qualification. And with all the earnestness of a child twice his age, Arran Fernandez confided that his mind was not necessarily set on a career in academia.
"I want to be a mathematician or a lorry driver or a space explorer," said Arran, who was just five years and 11 months old when he took his mathematics exams in June.
He was awarded a D grade, and beat the record set last summer when six-year-old Rajaei Sharma passed an information technology exam. Arran, who is taught at home by his parents, Neil and Hilde, posed for photographers clutching his exam result and his favourite teddy bear, Pudsey.
His result is the equivalent of a pass in the abolished CSE exam but is not the same as gaining the old O-level, a feat achieved by Ruth Lawrence, who shot to fame in the 1980s when she passed maths at the age of eight.
Maths GCSE candidates have a choice of three tiered papers. Arran sat the foundation exam and a D was the highest grade he could have achieved.
His father, Dr Neil Fernandez, a political economist from Surrey who won £1,000 in a bet on his son's success, said any child could match his son's achievement and criticised schools for not pushing their pupils hard enough. He said: "We are extremely proud of Arran but I believe that with the right encouragement, every child could do the same. All children love to build and explore. What's most important is that they are helped to develop strong tools for doing so."
Eight-year-old Dylan Cobb was also celebrating a double GCSE success, just two years after bullies forced him out of school. Dylan scored grade B in both maths and information technology after nine months' tuition at Ryde College, a private college in Watford, Hertfordshire. His mother, Anita Cobb, 45, said his success was a welcome relief. "The only thing I could do to help him was educate him at home. The problem was, he was so far ahead of me that I had to send him to college," she said.
Ten-year-old Elliott Malone, of Ealing, west London, achieved an A in the higher paper of GCSE maths. He was one of 17 pupils aged 10 to 13 at Clifton Lodge prep school who volunteered to take the exam up to six years early.
But for the family of Amelia Ward, the judge's daughter who was killed on a school trip last week, the collection of yesterday's results was bittersweet.
Her twin, Kate, 16, and her parents went to City of London School for Girls to pick up the results for Amelia, who died after being hit by a falling rock in South Africa. Amelia had scored three A*s, five As and one B.Reuse content